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Mildred Saari

October 17, 1922 - April 6, 2022
Portage, MI



At the family's request memorial contributions are to be made to those listed below. Please forward payment directly to the memorial of your choice.

American Cancer Society
P.O. Box 22478
Oklahoma City, OK 73123
(800) 227-2345
Web Site


Below is the contact information for a florist recommended by the funeral home.

1830 S. Westnedge
Kalamazoo, MI 49008
(269) 349-4961
Driving Directions
Web Site

Taylor's Florist and Gifts
215 E. Michigan Ave.
Paw Paw, MI 49079
(269) 657-6256
Driving Directions
Web Site

Life Story / Obituary


Mildred “Milly” Elizabeth Saari

“99 years, a few tears, and paperwork up to my ears.”

Mildred “Milly” Elizabeth Saari was a wife, sister, mother, aunt, and friend to many. She died on April 6, 2022 at the age of 99 in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Born October 17, 1922 in Norwich, Connecticut, Milly was predeceased by her husband, Wally (Arvo Walfrid Saari); and younger sister, Pearl Brigagliano (husband, Jimmy Brigagliano; children: Christine, David, and Jamie.)

After graduating from University of Connecticut with an accounting degree she worked at Price Waterhouse in New York City, kickstarting a long career in accounting before moving on to work at the Pan American Union in Washington, D.C. Milly and Wally married in 1946. They built their home in Silver Spring, Maryland. They were very active in the Finnish-American community, as their parents were all born in Finland. Milly spoke both English and Finnish from childhood. We still have so many family friends from this very close group. There were lots of dances, dinners, parties, coffee, and family celebrations. Milly and Wally had 3 children: Ruth (Jhan Swanson), Linda (David DuBois), and Grace (Bruce Fontaine). Very active in the schools and neighborhood organizations, I always thought of her as the president of the “NBC” (neighborhood broadcasting company). She was a Girl Scout cookie chairman for years, active in the PTA, and president of Woodmoor Garden Club. Wally always joked that she was the only garden club president who had more plastic and silk flowers than growing plants.

Milly sadly lost Wally on March 3, 1968 to cancer. She then went back to work in accounting at NASA Goddard Space Flight Center in order to support the family and continue to raise their 3 daughters in Silver Spring.

Milly, always generous, stayed active with friends and family. She traveled the United States and the world: Europe, Greece, Finland and the Baltic states, Caribbean, Mexico, Thailand, Hong Kong and Guam, South Pacific islands, and more.

After living in Silver Spring for many years, she moved to an over 55 community in Bridgeville, Delaware. Her first move to an assisted living community was in 2017 to Cape Girardeau, Missouri. In February 2020, she moved close to her granddaughter, Angelina Neff, in Kalamazoo, Michigan. Unfortunately, her move just preceded the start of the 2-year Covid pandemic. Milly spent this time at the Bickford of Portage Assisted Living home. She recently had a sudden decline in her health and spent her last days at the Rose Arbor Hospice where she peacefully passed away.

Milly is survived by 3 children, 3 nieces and nephews, 6 grandchildren, 4 great-grandchildren, and many other relatives and friends who are considered to be family. She looked forward to living every day. She will be missed by many. Memorial contributions may be made to the American Cancer Society.

Visit Milly's webpage at BetzlerLifeStory.com to archive favorite memories, photos, and sign her guestbook. Betzler Life Story Funeral Homes, 6080 Stadium Drive, Kalamazoo. (269) 375-2900.